Parents were not told that son was feeling suicidal

Old County Hall

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First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Abingdon and Wantage, South Oxford and Kennington. Call me on 01865 425431

THE PARENTS of a man who hanged himself the day after telling his GP he was having suicidal thoughts have asked why they weren’t told.

Nicholas Wilkes, whose parents Susan and John described as “one of life’s originals”, took his life at the family home in Iffley Turn, Oxford, on January 21.

The 28-year-old was having treatment for bi-polar disorder and alcoholism at Oxford’s Warneford Hospital but was classified as “low risk” for suicide.

An inquest at Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard on Thursday he had spent a £10,000 inheritance on alcohol while holidaying in Ukraine last year.

An internal review made by Oxford Health NHS Trust on Mr and Mrs Wilkes’ request found their son’s “low risk” designation was appropriate.

The inquest heard Mr Wilkes, a chef, saw his GP Richard Green for an appointment on January 20, the day before his death. In a statement read to the inquest, Dr Green said Mr Wilkes had “considered suicide on occasions but acknowledged the distance between actions and thoughts”.

Speaking at the inquest, Mrs Wilkes asked whether it would not have been reasonable for Dr Green to tell her about her son’s suicidal thoughts.

She said: “Given Nicholas had given permission for his doctor to tell us what was happening, even a phone call to say ‘keep an eye on him for a couple of days’ would have been enough for us not to have left him alone at home for those two days.

“We were his carers effectively – I was identified as such in hospital correspondence so I think this is about assessment of risk.

“We can’t make the whole world safe but we wouldn’t have left him.”

Mr Wilkes said it had been an “unusual coincidence” that both he and his wife had been out of the house at the same time on January 21.

Dr Green said in his statement that Mr Wilkes was “at some risk of self harm, but not immediate”, and referred him to the community mental health team at the Warneford for an “urgent review” on January 22.

Mr and Mrs Wilkes described their son as a “brilliant, funny, loving and caring person” but one who had some “grandiose” ideas about the world.

On returning from Ukraine, he told his GP he had been beaten up by a gang of sex traffickers who tried to kidnap his girlfriend.

He was prescribed an anti-pyschotic drug Olanzapine, and Dr Green said on their last meeting Mr Wilkes had been “very flat” and “withdrawn”, showing “no interest in things”.

The couple have now vowed to raise £28,000 – £1,000 for every year of their son’s life – for the MQ Transforming Mental Health charity.

Concluding his inquest, assistant coroner Nicholas Graham recorded a verdict that Mr Wilkes took his own life. He added that he was “heartened and impressed” by the £11,000 Mr and Mrs Wilkes had already raised for charity.

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